23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25)
“But Jesus did not entrust himself to them.” The context of this passage makes you wrestle a bit with what it means to believe in his name. Name itself often has more meaning in the Bible than it does in modern parlance. In 1 Kings 8, for instance, Solomon says he built the temple as a house for “Your Name” meaning God’s name. It was the place where the name of God would dwell. We don’t think of names as dwelling today. The idea here is that the name comes to be the ontological existence of the man, the person. And yet here in this passage the people have a false faith. They believe in his name as a miracle worker, the sons of Sciva would even try to invoke it in an exorcism. The sons of Sciva had a faith in the name, but it was the wrong kind of faith, the kind of faith that John speaks of here. This would often become the case in Jesus day. Think of his reaction after the feeding of the five thousand. Again Jesus does not entrust himself to the people but withdraws from them. Their faith was wrong.
The problem is, we are all little pagans at heart, and we bring a pagan attitude to our worship of God, and sometimes we confuse this with faith. The root of paganism is that we ourselves are gods, that we are equals to God. We come to him when we want something from him, and all too often we want the wrong things. We want miracles, we want food, we want political power, or a strong economy, and we are all very willing to ask God for these things, bow and kiss his ring if he will give them to us. But we will not repent. Our faith will not be of the type that says “thy will be done.” It will not be of the type that realizes we have wronged God, and he owes us nothing, and we owe him everything. We would approach him as someone we can use, but not as someone to be used by him. So the people see the miracles of Jesus, and they believe he can do them, they will ask for them, but Jesus will not entrust himself to them, because they would use his name for their own will, and not his. He hasn’t come for that, but to seek and save the lost, to give us salvation to forgive our sins.